I spent much of yesterday listening to the few tributes I could find happening on SiriusXM, sticking for a while with a show on The Loft where a younger female DJ and a gent in his 50s discussed the death. At a certain point, he asked her when she first became aware of David Bowie, leading to a slightly awkward discussion about Labyrinth.
For me, I can't really recall when Bowie came into my view. I imagine it had to be in the 1983-84 groundswell that happened in response to his gazillion-selling LP Let's Dance and the videos for the singles pulled from that album. I remember a vague sense of excitement at watching the MTV debut of the Julien Temple-directed Jazzin' For Blue Jean short film and the strange feelings of sexual curiosity that got stirred up by the clip for "China Girl." If I had any sense of the career that he had prior to this chart-topping moment in the sun.
It wasn't until I was 14 or 15 when I really got it in some big way. Rykodisc was reissuing all of his prime studio work, with bonus tracks and green-tinted jewel cases and all. I happened to be on a trip with the marching band, making a pilgrimage to the mall's chain record store and found that they had considerably marked down all of their vinyl to make room for more CDs. Among them, I landed the first three Ryko reissues on green-tinted clear wax. Things, as you can imagine, looked much differently to my eyes after that.
I can't profess myself a superfan with copies of every album, and a deep breadth of knowledge of every part of his long career. But I loved knowing he was out there, making idiosyncratic records that were full of spirit, wit, musical curiosity, and a fierce belief in the soul-shifting power of creativity. I felt that even stronger when I listened to what would turn out to be his final album. Here was another masterpiece from an artist that, as far as I knew, had a few more years of brilliance left in him. Then, I got a text message on Sunday night, close to midnight, breaking the terrible news. Again, things looked much, much different in my world from that very point.
Maybe it would have been easier if we had known about his illness or if he hadn't have unearthed another suitcase of genius on Blackstar. But I doubt it. This one was always going to hurt and hurt deeply. It still does, even 24+ hours later, and after sharing a few reminiscences with friends last night as we spun Bowie vinyl. We are forced to move forward from all of those life-altering moments, for good and for ill. I just know that as I do carry on until my final moments, I'll be clutching my small cache of LPs close to my chest each step of the way.